Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Energy Regulator Charges Syncrude in Deaths of 31 Great Blue Herons

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Alberta Energy Regulator Charges Syncrude in Deaths of 31 Great Blue Herons

Article excerpt

Syncrude charged in deaths of 31 herons

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CALGARY - The Alberta Energy Regulator has charged Syncrude Canada in the deaths of 31 great blue herons two years ago at its Mildred Lake oilsands mine in northern Alberta.

The company is charged under the provincial Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act with failing to properly store a hazardous substance in a way that ensures it doesn't come into direct contact with or contaminate animals.

Syncrude, which faces a penalty of up to $500,000 if convicted, is to appear in court on Sept. 27 in Fort McMurray, Alta.

Spokesman Will Gibson said Syncrude is reviewing the charge to determine its next step but has already made changes to better protect birds on site.

"This has strengthened our resolve to make sure that bird deterrent systems are everywhere they are needed on our site," he said, adding Syncrude's plan previously focused mainly on its tailings ponds, which store water contaminated with oil, chemicals and clay from its oilsands processes. …

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